Cry, the Beloved Country

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Cry, the Beloved Country Book I, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Stephen goes to visit his son’s pregnant girlfriend. He finds her, and breaks the news of Absalom’s crime and arrest. She is devastated, but says that she still wants to marry him. Stephen does not appear to believe her, and says that he cannot let her marry his son if she doesn’t want to be in his family. Obviously hungry for family, she fervently repeats that she does want to be in his family.
This girl is another example of how the brokenness can manifest: mistreated, abandoned by her family, she is hungry for any family, any kind of tribe.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Stephen asks the girl about her parents. As she regales him with the sad story of abandonment and loss, he discovers that she has been with three men, including his son, since leaving home. Stephen is angry with this, and testing her, asks if he can be another one of her “husbands.” She is confused and upset, but reluctantly agrees, and then bursts into tears. Stephen immediately feels terrible about what he has done, apologizes, and speaks kindly to her. He asks her how old she is, and she says that she thinks she is sixteen. He asks if she would desire to leave Johannesburg to come and live with him and his wife, in a quiet place. Again, she excitedly says that she would desire that. He is pleased, but makes her promise that if she changes her mind, she should just tell him, and not run away.
Stephen’s weakness shows yet again, when he baits the girl into admitting that she would sleep with him if she had to. This reveals the utter depths of her hunger, and Stephen regrets this test because he is a good man, and understands why she acts this way. She has no way to get anything except by using her body—she's desperate. When he realizes this, though, he does the Christian thing and makes the generous offer of bringing her into his family, which she accepts.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
She promises. Stephen says that he will find her a place to live, not in this place. The girl seems excited and pleased about this arrangement. He leaves feeling a little lighter.
Even if Stephen’s son has been broken by this place, the girl is a small piece of the tribe that Stephen can restore.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon